Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bingeworthy Show - Orphan Black

Though summer is quickly dwindling, there's still time for a good binge, and this show is very worthy of a day's viewing.

I had heard so many great things about this show - another BBC America winner, along with Doctor Who, Sherlock and Broadchurch - both from critics and by word of mouth, and its incredibly talented star, relative unknown Tatiana Maslany, and my verdict is in:  this is a gripping, addictive, well-made program.

THE LOWDOWN (minor spoilers)

Sarah Manning (Maslany) - orphan, hustler, single mother - clone?  Always an outsider, Sarah's life drastically changes after she witnesses the suicide of a woman, Beth Childs, who looks just like her. Exactly like her, actually.  Seeing an opportunity to start a new life and reunite with the daughter she left behind months earlier, Sarah assumes her doppelganger's identity (she was a police detective), her bank account and her relationship with boyfriend Paul (Dylan Bruce, As the World Turns).

But instead of solving her problems, she is thrust into an impossible mystery. She makes the dizzying discovery that she and the dead woman are clones .. and not the only ones. Sarah quickly finds herself caught in the middle of a deadly conspiracy and must race to find answers about who she is and how many others there are just like her.

Co-stars Jordan Gavaris (Degrassi) as Sarah's foster brother Felix; Kevin Hanchard (Suits), as Detective Art Bell, Beth's partner on the force;  Maria Doyle Kennedy (Downton Abbey) as Mrs. S, Sarah and Felix's foster mother; and Skylar Wexler, Sarah's precocious seven-year-old daughter.

The rest of the cast consists primarily of Maslany - the chameleon actress to date portrays/has portrayed six different characters - above, L-R Sarah, Helena, Alison, Cosima, Beth - with at least three more to come.  Each "clone" has their own personalities, quirks, and voices ... different accents included. For example, Maslany is Canadian and so is the Beth character, but Sarah is British, so as Sarah, Maslany has to speak with a Canadian accent and subtly sound like someone who is faking an accent well enough to be believable to those around her - I know, it's mind-boggling.

Maslany adeptly brings each woman to life and easily makes viewers distinguish between them, clothing and hairstyles notwithstanding.  To watch her act in scenes opposite herself - or multiple versions of herself - is masterful.  She thoroughly makes you believe these are all different women ... she's just so good.

I easily made it through season one's 10 episodes in a day, as the pacing and storylines move along at a terrific pace.  There's a lot going on, but you never get lost in it.  There is a great supporting cast and you can't wait to see what happens next.  A particularly fantastic episode is "Variations Under Domestication," where there are so many "Gonna get caught! gonna get caught!" moments, you are on the edge of your seat the whole time.

There is plenty of action, great twists, a compelling conspiracy and a season finale to leave you craving so much more.  We have to wait till 2014 (gorammit) for season two, but it will SO be worth the wait.

Bottom Line:  Adopt this Orphan immediately!

BBC America will air all ten episodes of Orphan Black starting September 14.  Season One is also available through Amazon Instant Video and on DVD.


  1. Been a fan of Tatiana Maslany for a few years and of course I'm a fan of OB so I appreciate your article. However I must point out that Ms. Maslany is Canadian not American.